Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s project has a habitual repertoire of political themes, from the fight against corruption to inequality, the break with the past, infrastructures or the transformation of the country, which publicly mark his speech and daily battles. There is a field, however, in which the president is more prudent and that is characterized by the discretion of the dialogue. The relationship with big Mexican capital has never been interrupted despite the president’s criticism of private initiative. The ruler meets periodically with the main businessmen in search of support and to show harmony. This Monday he did it with Carlos Slim, of whom he has highlighted a recent millionaire contribution to the public purse.
At the end of his morning press conference, López Obrador said goodbye with a “I’m going to have breakfast with Carlos Slim.” Minutes later, he received the magnate, a symbol of Mexico’s economic power, at the National Palace. And at the end he has published a photograph on his social networks in which he has described Slim as a “friend and good businessman.” “It contributes to the development of the country”, he commented before mentioning one of his latest operations: “For example, América Móvil sold a subsidiary in the United States and they paid 28,000 million pesos in Mexico on December 16 (about 1,350 million dollars) to the Public Treasury ”.
The telephone company completed the sale to Verizon of 100% of its stake in Tracfone Wireless, the main virtual operator of prepaid services in the United States, at the end of November. For that transaction he received 3,625 million dollars. Last Monday López Obrador mentioned this operation and the corresponding income to the Treasury as an example. “The director of the SAT informed me,” she said without giving further details: “Little by little, little by little.” The president regretted that all workers “contribute more in income tax than companies.” “It is a great injustice that we are all contributing and that there was like a divine caste, a privileged group that due to influences did not pay taxes,” he said.
The president has met with Slim on several occasions. Last September they flew together by helicopter over a section of the Mayan Train works, one of the government’s major infrastructure projects, in which Grupo Carso, owned by the businessman, participates. Previously, in their meetings they discussed the reconstruction of Line 12 of the Mexico City metro. Despite his friction with investors and some decisions that sowed concern in the markets, for example the electricity reform, the president has been employed in maintaining a fluid relationship with employers’ organizations.
After the June elections, he met with the members of the Mexican Business Council -among them, Emilio Azcárraga, president of Televisa and Laura Díaz Barroso, at the head of Santander México, or Daniel Servitje, chief executive of Grupo Bimbo-, before those who recalled that “the country cannot be developed only with public investment, private investment is required.” Two weeks ago he saw the main businessmen of the country again. At the end of the meeting, the president highlighted a climate of “cordiality and cooperation.” And then he told the press that “businessmen are helping a lot.” “They are helping and there are some who regret it and are even offering me apologies, nothing more than for dignity I cannot say. But that speaks very well of them, very well ”, he emphasized. Then he clarified that these apologies are not of a personal nature, but by virtue of the head of Government, “for abuses that were committed and they want to help, that is, they want to participate again with the commitment to act with rectitude and integrity.”
One of the economic keys for the year that is ending, however, has to do with a trend towards divestment, especially of foreign capital. The fall reaches 14% and is the most significant in two decades, although the causes are not exclusively related to the López Obrador project but to international balances and competition from China’s bonds. And, despite the president’s demonstrations, the big businessmen have mostly opted for silence, that is, not to confront the government’s policies or to pronounce on them.
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